(Yes, I have some.)
If you’re a friend of mine, it’s quite unlikely that you voted for Trump. If you did I hope that: his naming a white supremacist to the highest role in his White House, or his naming a climate denier with no science degree to lead the EPA’s transition, or that he didn’t know that he’d have to replace the White House staffers that would leave with Obama, have provoked some deep thinking on your part about whether or not you made the right call.
Most likely though, you didn’t vote for Trump – and if so I applaud you for putting country over party. But you’re still a Republican. Let’s talk about the party you support, regardless of your vote in this election.
Let me say this first: I tell my friends that on Earth-2, I would be a Republican. I am suspicious of the liberal worldview that often boils down to the position that the world should just, somehow, be a better place. I favor lower taxes where possible, lower regulation where possible, and market based solutions where possible. I understand that the game theory of international conflict sometimes requires flexing muscle even if the goal is peace. I actually think Ted Cruz had a point when he said that Detroit was a once-great American city destroyed by liberal policies. I’m not some dyed-in-the-wool liberal. I’m not even registered as a Democrat.
But three things would make it impossible for me to support the GOP today. First is, yes, Trump, regardless of where I put my vote on election day. But even putting Trump aside, the GOPs positions on civil rights issues and on science itself would make the GOP a non-starter for me.
Let’s start with Trump; 90% of Republicans voted for Trump. He enjoyed high profile support from the speakers of both houses of Congress and the RNC. The head of the RNC is slated to be Trump’s Chief of Staff. He may not enjoy the unqualified support of the entire party, but Trump is a Republican officeholder. If you’re a Republican, he’s the leader of your party. You can’t have it both ways.
Even if Trump weren’t your party’s leader, there are still the positions of your party that, for me, are utterly non-negotiable. How the parties behave is a separate question, but not one whose answer should give you any comfort.*
I feel that a blanket assignment of “racism” as the motive of Trump voters is too knee-jerk a reaction. But how about your party’s history with racism? It’s fairly established fact now that the Republican party took over the South with Nixon’s “southern strategy”, and Reagan picked up this baton by using code words like “states rights” – this one in particular he coined at an infamous speech in a town obviously chosen for its symbolic meaning – the site of high profile murders of Civil Rights activists. That upheaval and geographic base is still, today, the bedrock of the Republican party.
Is your party done with racism? No, it’s not. The GOP has engaged in a war on voting rights across the country, and its efforts were so blatant in North Carolina that a federal judge said that it “target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision”. This detail of how that bill came to be leaves no doubt what the intention of these legislators was. The NC GOP’s after-the-fact gloating drives the point home even further.
Elsewhere in the world of civil rights, Republicans opposed the Obergefell decision allowing same-sex marriage. If you’re friends with me, you probably have gay friends, and you’re supporting a party that wanted to to bar them from the same rights and protections that you and I enjoy (assuming you’re not gay yourself, which … I don’t know).
The GOP is anti-science. I’m sorry, but it’s just that simple. Republicans deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change, which is as settled a scientific question as there is. Republicans deny that evolution is a fact, which is ALSO as settled a scientific question as there is. They deliberately conflate the two meanings of the word “theory” – one meaning a hypothesis, one meaning a settled interlocking set of explanations. The “theories” of evolution and climate change are not hypotheses. As far as the science is concerned, they are settled, and the GOP denies this.
Mike Pence, the supposedly normal one on the ticket, is both a creationist and a climate change denier (oh, actually, sorry, “Global warming is a myth” is something he said in 2001, maybe he’s changed his mind…). Hmm, nevermind: in 2009 he said “[in] the mainstream media, there is a denial of the growing skepticism in the scientific community on global warming” and in 2014 he said “haven’t seen a lot of warming lately. I remember back in the ’70s, we were talking about the emerging ice age. We’ll leave the scientific debate to the future.” 2014 was the hottest year on record. That record fell (again), as this year is slated to be the hottest ever.
To add insult to injury, Mike Pence – although he’s never strung the words “conversion therapy” together – did say “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” – which is of course a position that can be only be based on an insulting, baseless, anti-science, lie.
Like I said above, I’m sympathetic to the political philosophy of conservatism. But if civil rights and the scientific method are partisan issues, which they most certainly are, you won’t find me considering supporting the Republican party in any way. They are disqualifying positions for me, and, frankly, they should be for you too.
*I happen to believe the Republican party is vastly worse on this score: partisan gerrymandering by the GOP gave them an extra 10-15 house seats before the 2016 election, and conservatives are disproportionately the source of fake or misleading news. But, I know, emails!!1! and #benghazi and the Clinton Foundation.